South Shields ready to take on FC United of Manchester
South Shields’ third game of pre-season will see them take on FC United of Manchester at Mariners Park on Saturday.
The match will be the first time the two clubs have met, and will provide another good test for Shields ahead of the upcoming EVO-STIK North season.
FC United finished 13th in the National League North last time out, having progressed through the divisions since being formed in 2005.
Shields will be aiming to continue their unbeaten run in pre-season, and register their first win, having drawn 1-1 and 2-2 with Gateshead and Boldon CA respectively so far.
Mariners joint manager Lee Picton feels the match will provide his side with a “good yardstick” of where they are at.
He said: “It is a really good test. Again, it gives us a great idea of aspirationally where we ourselves want to be in a couple of years time hopefully.
“They have a real strong fanbase and have got some very good players.
“It will be a really good yardstick for us as to the levels we need to get to over the next year or two.
“They’ve got a slightly different model to us, as they’re a fan-owned club, but they’ve had to start from the bottom and work their way up.
“They’ve kind of levelled off a bit over the last two or three years, but that shows how tough National League North football is.
“I’m sure Darlington, Blyth Spartans and Spennymoor Town will experience that this season.
“It’s going to be a really tough and interesting league this year again with a lot of high quality teams in it.”
FC United was set up in 2005, and is one of the best-supported clubs in non-league football, with an average attendance of 2,667 last season.
It is often said that they were set up in protest to Malcolm Glazer’s takeover of Manchester United, but those involved at the club say that was merely the final straw, and not the sole reason.
A group of supporters who had grown tired of changing kick-off times, all-seater stadia, diminishing atmospheres and increasing ticket prices set the wheels in motion, and FC United was born.
Karl Marginson has been the club’s manager since its formation, and FC United’s home kit is red shirts with white shorts.
They are the largest fan-owned football club in the UK, based on the number of members, who all have equal voting rights and own one share in the club each.
The club’s badge is based on the Manchester coat of arms, and features a ship at sea, as well as three stripes for the three rivers which flow through the city.
FC United have proved to be very successful on the pitch as well as off it. Three consecutive promotions were achieved to start things off, and a fourth promotion was secured in 2015 to see them into the National League North.
After multiple groundshares, the club moved into its own ground, Broadhurst Park, in May 2015.
Kick-off in Saturday’s game is at 3pm, and admission prices – to be paid at the turnstiles – are £8 for adults, £6 for students and over-65s, and £2 for under-16s.
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.